China – Wrapping up Yangshuo

Yangshuo, China, April 2019:  Tomorrow I’m on the move – destination, Zhangjiajie a 10 hour train and bus ride north. In the meantime here’s a bunch of images to wrap up this visit to Yangshuo and the Karst scenery area.

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A performance of tradition. The costumed performers here are floating around on bamboo rafts with movements choreographed to a soothing rendition of – something traditionally Chinese! Spotted on a lake next to West street at 10 am Sunday morning.

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For a price, tourists can pose for photos complete with costumes, Cormorant Birds and a traditional Chinese old timer. Looks like the bamboo raft here is about to sink! 

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For those not inclined to pay £30 for the 4 hour boat ride from Guilin, but still would like a ride on the Li River, then this could be an alternative –  50p for a 6 minutes trip on this plastic pipe ferry, to be found at the end of West Street.

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Cormorant Fishing – these birds are supposed go and catch fish, returning to the raft with said fish. A traditional fishing method along the waterways of China. I suspect the example here is for tourist effect!

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For the intrepid with cash to burn – this helicopter sits beside the North-South tourist highway. The price is about £20 and the flight lasts for 5 minutes sweeping over Yangshuo town and along the Li river.

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This old timer want’s 5 Y for a photo of him and his birds. Its hard to tell if he was a real fisherman for fake! Its easy to take a photo without being spotted though.

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Occasionally the sun would shine late afternoon as one rides a cycle beside the Li river. Here then is a golden opportunity to grab a snap of the LI river scenery bathed in golden sunlight.

And to wrap it all up, here’s a summery of Yangshuo with a selection of my favourite images…

 

China – Karst in the Park, Yangshuo (Quick Post)

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: I’m almost out of time, infact its my penultimate afternoon here in Yangshuo. For once, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and everyone around me looks relaxed, even smiling – a far cry from my experience in Shenzhen! Right now I’m meandering towards the town park, the only place left on the map that’ could be worthy of a quick look. Situated adjacent to the towns tourist core, the place should make an ideal refuge if one seeks escape the malaise of hundreds of screeching, spitting, smoking Chinese tourists.

Plenty of pleasantness here – an abundance of greenery among the well landscaped grounds. Old timers are out to play here – gently dancing in formation to traditional music, others gambling away there pensions at a card table. Beware though, for those with sensitive ears, there’s some rather loud, cringe-worthy karaoke going on.

Interestingly, there’s a Karst situated within the grounds. Even more interestingly there’s a pagoda perched high on a ledge facing the town – now there’s got to be a way up there, an easy way to some spectacular views hopefully, lets go to find out!

Good news, the Karst Hill has public access, and its free! Its about a 20 minute, relatively easy climb up a stone stair case to some pretty nice views across the town and its surrounds.

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Yangshuo Town Park

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The Yangshuo Town Park.

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Dancing in a loose formation to relaxing music.

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Wiley old-timers 

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Karst in the Park, there must be a way up to that pagoda…

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Way to climb the Karst.

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At last, another good view of the unique Karst landscape under blue sky.

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Yangshuo Town Looking East.

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Just Imagine Prehistoric flying reptiles swooping down and around!

Yes, just marvel at these spectacular views in the late afternoon sunshine, where, from a photographers perspective the sun is positioned perfectly! So, for visitors itching to climb up one of these Limestone Karsts, I’d recommend this one, right in the middle of Yangshuo town.

China – The Moon Hill, Yangshuo (Quick Post)

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: The Moon Hill is essentially a rock formation with a gap through the middle shaped, yes, like a moon – loosely speaking. In a few minutes, once I’ve sipped this hot KFC coffee, I shall pedal power my way down to the North-South tourist highway where the rock is to be found. As usual the weather is disappointingly dull with a solid overcast, but just about bright enough to grab some scenic views with the camera, hopefully. According to what I’ve read, the place is full of hiking trails with some elevated paths along the way, so in theory one should have a splendid time on my penultimate day in Yangshuo.

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On the North-South Highway

In true Chinese tradition, anything worth seeing has a price attached. So, for the £2 price tag, lets see what the place has to offer as one polity refuses to buy expensive water from the old timers touting in the car park!

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I’m told by downward hikers that the Moon Palace path isn’t in good shape and the scenery is better from the left hand path.

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On Moon Hill looking at Moon Rock – A natural phenomenon or hand made? Those who have energy and the enthusiasm can climb it and attain a 360 degree view.

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An easy 20 minute hike up, even for grandma and grandpa!

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180 degree Views from the trail peak, village of block houses and Kast landscapes

So, that’s the Moon Hill experience – not bad for the effort required and on a dull day. If the sun was shining with a blue sky, I would be tempted to climb the Moon Rock for the reward of a 360 degree view – but little point on a day like today, sadly.

Next time, Climbing a Kast Rock situated right in the town centre…

China – West Street, the Tourist Core, Yangshuo

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: West Street, Yangshuo is definitely a hotspot for mass tourism. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly quiet mornings here, for by 1130 the first wave of passengers filter through to West Street and the surrounds as the Guilin boats off-load at the dock, upstream. From hereon-in the place fills with a tsunami of mainly Chinese domestic tourists with a handful of Westerners for good measure.

Yangshuo is a prime example of a town buckling under the pressures and demands of mass tourism. An unceasing appetite for shopping, entertainment and Western flavours leaves the place full of bars, pubs, pricey restaurants and MacDonalds, not to mention the wall to wall souvenir shops, tattoo parlours and Karaoke studios. The place is so full by lunchtime there’s hardly room to move. The towns authentic charms have since long gone although to be fair, there are still plenty of original buildings standing, its just that they are full of stuff that isn’t particularly in character with old town Yangshuo.

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West Street

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West Street, for the Chinese tourist

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West Street Yangshuo, Densely packed tourism. 

Well, I think its fair to say, Yangshuo’s west street more than fulfils the needs of domestic tourists. Fast foods, T-shirts, Ice-creams and Karaoke interspersed with a gaming arcade here and there. Life of course would not be complete without being hassled by the ticket tout mafia. yes, alive and well here on West Street, pouncing on unsuspecting visitors. As a seasoned traveller, I can easily identify and avoid!

China – A Look at Local Life, Yangshuo (Quick Post)

Yangshuo, China, 2019: Just a few metres from Yangshuo’s tourist core is a thriving local scene. Sit at a small cafe beside the busy North road and one can discover where the locals go out to eat, where they buy food and its where the local taxi mafia’s have one of their hangouts!

Lets take a look how Chinese locals live their lives in Yangshuo…

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South of the White Line is the Tourist Core, North of the Line is Local Life.

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Cheap and cheerful eating, that’s how the locals roll in Yangshuo. I’ve focused on this little cafe where the menu is simple, can be tailored to suit ones non-spicy palette. Best of all, I can just point at the pictures on the wall and make a negative gesture at the bowl of red chilli paste – no English, no Problem! 

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Most of Yangshuo’s vehicles are electric powered, including the local buses. 

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Unofficial market stalls occupy space on the pavements here.

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Chinese Hot Dogs, steamed!

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Locals buying steamed bun. I’ve seen these being manufactured on the premises with freshly prepared ingredients. 20p for a pork bun – so delicious I got hooked!  

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Chinese vegetables, that’s all I know!

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Happiness is bagging a bargain at the market. 

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At this cafe customers are given a bowl to fill with what ever stir fry ingredients they like! A big bowl and plenty of rice – marvellous value at £1.80

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My Stir fried pork.

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Locals…

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Locals at the steamed bun shop

 

 

China – The Li River Scenery, Yangshuo

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: An all to familiar routine now, here in Yangshuo – morning, Sit in KFC with a coffee and quietly whinge to myself about the awful Chinese weather! Today’s mission on a cycle, when/if the rain subsides is to generally follow the Li river downstream until reaching the little map Icon indicating a scenic spot. Not a long or arduous expedition today since i’m still recovering from yesterdays marathon ride around half of china, or so it felt.

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Short ride to Mushanzha

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Yangshuo actually!

Good news, the rain has stopped, even an outbreak of brightness momentarily, my Que then to get a move on before the mist a drizzle return. Just a short ride, about  half an hour in each direction tracking the Li river. Small roads, under the town bridge and on towards the Yangshuo Karst Scenery area. Here’s a few snaps then as I make my way to the village of Mushanzha, downstream Yangshuo.

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Yangshuo Town Bridge – Just use some imagination to add blue sky and sunshine!

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The Li River and its Scenery on a gloomy day.

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An abandoned rafting dock downstream Yangshuo

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Old rafts piled high – these are constructed of plastic pipes and wire.

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Just a few bamboo rafts downstream Yangshuo

The village isn’t anything to excite ones thirst for traditional culture sadly. A mostly modern affair with block houses, and a few hollow structures but I did spot one ancient dwelling along with a local temple adding a little interest before heading back to base.

So, as you can see, not the most inspiring of rides today, but of course add in a little sunshine and a blue sky and the whole scenario could equal some of the worlds greatest scenery – oh well, something for next time! Incidentally, should one like to take a ride on a plastic pipe raft, it’s about £9 per person from just near the town bridge for a 50 minutes round trip.

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Rush hour on the Li River as boats from Guilin queue for a space to dock!

 

China – On And Off the Tourist Trail, Yangshuo Pt.2

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: On a muddy track with Feng Lou behind and open country ahead – I’m going to meander around in the hope of finding a route back to Yangshuo without having to double back through that malaise of the tourist mass’s on the North to South Highway.

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Muddy track, middle of nowhere!

This muddy track leads West according to the map on my phone. Leading to nowhere particular, not a village nor a town is indicated. This little ride needs a sense of adventure and a plane B if it all go’s wrong – well, I have the sense, but not the plan, not even a puncture repair kit. Oh well, lets ride on and take the chance!

A rural and tranquil scene as the track opens out and turns to concrete slabs. Farmsteads, hamlets and rice fields. Yes, at last I’ve found some rice paddies that have so far been elusive. Early season rice planting is underway here so the paddies still resemble muddy ponds as the farm worker skillfully throws the rice plant’s as though they are darts being aimed at a target.

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Early season rice planting, rural China.

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Citrus plantations.

Apart from rice one will ride among citrus groves, tea bushes and spice plantations, which incidentally, needs an expert to identify all the various seed pods and leaves. I do recognise tea from my time in Sri Lanka and of course the citrus fruits are easily recognisable. Also easily recognisable is the severed head of a cockerel stuck to a stick  -rural superstition I suppose!

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Looks like some kind of superstition at play here!

Well, this is turning into the longest bike ride I’ve ever undertaken as each concrete track is a dead end thanks to the inaccuracy of Maps.Me app! So, I’m really am just meandering around, double backing trying to find a way across the Yulong river, all to no avail. A rather non-descriptive settlement here offers no way through either. A settlement consisting of hollow 3 story accommodation blocks, a quiet ghostly scene, as though everyone left here in a hurry. This is probably one place a lone western tourist shouldn’t loiter for to long! On the plus side the place is in a picturesque setting right next to the Yulong River but the bridge go’s nowhere useful sadly.

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Ghost Village.

With the bridge that go’s nowhere useful, looks like I’ve no option but to double back and rejoin the tourist highway if I’m ever going to see Yangshuo again! So, here’s another round of snaps along the way.

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The chemical food problem, even in China.

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All the tea in China.

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My reliable transport.

Doubling back through Feng Lou village offers another round of snaps, this time with slightly better lighting conditions and thus ends this interesting excursion into rural China. Now for the long ride back to Yangshuo town. I would try an hitch a ride on that hybrid van contraption, but I think that particular vehicle has had its day!

 

China – On And Off the tourist trail, Yangshuo Pt.1

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: Today I have a plan in mind for me and the creaky old cycle. A meander Southbound since that’s the only direction I haven’t taken yet, but first things first – Coffee at KFC while scrutinising the Maps.Me app. There appears to be a host of tourist attractions along the southbound highway and with the rain holding off so far its time to power up those pedals, go and see what makes the Southbound road so attractive.

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Lets go South

After about 45 minutes one soon realises this area is where to see caves. About 3 caves carved from the Kast hills and heavily promoted along the highway south of Yangshuo, each with toll booths and security barriers before anyone can get even close. personally, I’m not that thrilled about visiting caves with synthetic light shows, especially having to pay up for the privilege, I’ll skip right along. I can imagine the scene now – hot, sultry caves with thousands of spitting, smoking Chinese tourists pushing, shoving and shouting! I know that’s a pretty wide assumption but from what I’ve seen so far, probably not far off the mark! The last cave along this route is named ‘Butterfly spring park. I’ve read that butterfly springs can be a hit and miss affair in China and with a £5.30 entrance fee, this one I’ll miss – I really can’t imagine many butterflies putting up with a hoard of noisy, boisterous tourists.

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Mixed reviews about the Butterfly Spring, Yangshuo – moving on then..

So, I’m definitely on a tourist trail here with tour buses by the dozens and scooters by the hundreds. It appears that the bridge up ahead is rather congested, I wonder why! Oh, its a selfie spot. Yes, the selfie obsessed come here to grab their We-Chat selfie, and there must be at least a thousand people, milling around vying for that ultimate scenic position. I have to admit the place does have a scenic quality despite the dull overcast weather and the murky water. Just along the road there is a very old tree, a Banyan tree said to be 4000 years old. If one wishes to visit this old tree then there is an entrance fee! Its actually easy to see from a side track for those who are not obsessed with selfie photos. Here’s a few snaps…

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Crowded Bridge over the Yulong River

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£2.35 to get up close to this Big Banyan Tree!

Time to get off this tourist trail after having endured Chinese domestic tourism on a mass scale. Looking at the map, next right heads off into a village and then out to what could be described as the middle of nowhere – is that actually a good idea? Well, lets eat those steamed buns and ponder over the idea.

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There’s the village of Feng Lou, next to the murky Yulong River. 

Among the modern blocks are lanes leading to a few ancient dwellings in this rather quiet village. Yes, the mass of tourists have stopped at the Banyan Tree leaving me to explore the village of Feng Lou unhindered. A definite quaintness about the place. If there wasn’t so many wires and satellite dishes one may well have the impression of  stepping back in time a few decades.

In part 2, discovering rural china – rice, tea and a cockerel head!

 

 

 

 

China – Hand Painted and Antiques, Fuli

Yangshuo, China, April 2019: According to Microsoft’s Bing web browser, downstream from Yangshuo is a village called Fuli. Notable for its situation on the River Li and for being the place to experience a little piece of  China’s old time authenticity. Here visitors can see some delicate arts such as traditional paper fan painting but best of all, its just a short-ish bike ride east of Yangshuo town. So, lets down this KFC coffee and apply some pedal power, before it starts raining again!

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Fuli, downstream Yangshuo

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Leaving town via the main highway

Heading East is a new direction for this creaky old cycle that’s costing me a hefty £1.20 for the day. The only way out of town in this direction is along the main busy highway. A precarious ride through the narrow tunnel then across the town bridge spanning the mighty Li river is a ride for the brave – especially through that tunnel with lorries and buses passing within what seems just a couple of meters, one false move from either of us and it could all be over, very quickly! Thankfully, there is light and the end of the tunnel in this instance, emerging in one piece, unscathed and keen to get to Fuli.

Fuli town can be separated into the new and the old. The new developments are sited along the highway while the original village is a short ride down towards the riverside. Its taken about an hour to get to this rather sleepy but quaint little place where its old timers can be seen sitting in doorways chewing the fat – no doubt remarking that there’s a white tourist in the village.

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Lets chew the fat… 

Cobbled streets, paved concrete lanes and antiques, not to mention a few of the houses where one can witness the ancient art of hand painting paper fans. They are of course for sale, but such delicate articles like paper fans are unlikely to make it all the way to England in on piece in my already overflowing back pack.   

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No mass production here, all hand painted we are told!

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Antiques or mass produced?

A deathly quiet place on the whole. but a place where visitors can witness Chinese village life without all that pretentious tourist stuff that we have to endure nowadays. Fuli clearly has historic origins being situated on a navigable river and with ancient dwellings often crumbling into disrepair. The riverside is a nice spot for lunch – peaceful, the ultimate tranquil setting is here by the river in Fuli.

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Riverside tranquility.

Across the river is another small village, accessed by a ferry waiting at the dock here almost as if my arrival was anticipated. A quick look at the map suggests this could be an alternative way back to Yangshuo. A ride on the ferry with cycle costs 10 Yuan, about £1.25 and lasts all of 6 minutes. For those that don’t feel the £30 4 hour boat ride from Guilin to Yangshuo can be justified, then the £1.25 here is well spent with scenery included!

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On the River Li a Fuli, gloomy weather.

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Chinese Ferry across the Li.

The dwellings here on the opposite side of the river amount to nothing more than a farming hamlet. Nothing much to see but there is a route back to Yangshuo, avoiding the main highway and that precarious tunnel. Yes, a tranquil countryside setting for the ride back to town, here’s a few snaps along the way…

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Follow the sign

 

China – Wrapping up the Yulong, Yangshuo

Yangshuo, China, April 2019:  Oh how the time flies when one is immersed with the surrounds of natural China. The lush green landscape, green hills and the mysterious conical limestone kasts and of course the river winding its way through fields of delicate crops. However, it’s time to wrap up this excursion to the Yulong scenic area and head back to Yangshuo town. before I do, lets just take a look around around this riverside dock where hundreds of rafts are lined up and going nowhere. I’ve read that rafting along the rivers around Yangshuo is a favourite activity among Chinese tourists and it all gets pretty crowded and unpleasant at times. Clearly today is a great day for a raft ride, perhaps the river is a little to deep after all the recent rain given the definite lack of customers here. Personally, I don’t feel the need for a ride on the murky waters of the Yulong River, especially since it costs £30 for 45 minutes!

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So, as I set course back to base, its time to wrap things up with another batch of scenic photos as the afternoon sunshine bathes the place in golden light. A great cycle ride actually, not at all strenuous being on flat good quality surfaces all the way from Yangshuo. Cycles can be hired from just about anyplace in town. I hired mine from the guesthouse for an outrageous price of £1.25 for the whole day!

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Should a brave soul feel like a session of climbing… 

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Riding through a village.

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On the edge of Yangshuo town.